A quarterly newsletter, Governors State University, Park Forest South, IL 60466.
A quarterly newsletter published at Governors State University under the auspices of the Provost's Ottice
©1977, Governors State University and Helen Hughes
Helen E. Hughes, Editor
Marian Schuller, Editorial Assistant
Joan Lewis, Editorial Consultant
Suzanne Oliver, Graphic Designer
VOL. 1, NO. 3, WINTER 1978
Rev. Ellen Dohner
A. Yueh-shan Wei
From the Guest Editor: Rev. E.H. Dohner
This week I was at a meeting where the
subject of whether or not women should
be ordained for the ministry came up.
One women said that it was "unbiblical"
and quoted St. Paul as saying that women
should keep silence in the church. An-
other woman said that men are given a
"greater spiritual power" and there-
fore women must turn to them for guid-
ance in all religious matters.
This was not a fundamentalist church--
it was at our local university. The quo-
tations from Paul always get my adrenalin
flowing. I reyere and cherish the great
wisdom that is contained in the Bible but
I deeply resent it when scriptures are
used as a reason to keep people oppress-
ed. Bible passages were also used this
way by Southern preachers in slavery
days to defend that brutalizing custom.
Why should the utterance of one man who
wrote almost 2000 years ago be used to
keep half the human race in psychologi-
cal shackles? This woman that I would
like to consider a sister said that it
is "God's word, that's why." Every
word in that Good Book is "God's own
word," she informs me. I did not re-
tort because there was no use arguing,
but I was thinking that if there is a
loving God how could s/he tell us
something that is in total opposition
to human health and potential. That is
not my God!
Marilyn Blitzstein, Subscriptions
Rev. Ellen Dohner, Religion and Philosophy of Creativity
Dorothy Freck, Science/Journalism
Sue Gray, Women's Studies
Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women's Studies
Helene Guttman, Biological Sciences
Shirley Katz, Music/ Literature
Donna Piontek, Social Sciences
Betye Saar, Fine Arts
Sara Shumer, Political Theory
Sandra Tucker, Communications
Emily Wasiolek, Literature
My creator tells me to keep on with
creation. We are continually in the
process of creating ourselves--that is
our charge as religious people; that is
our spiritual thrust.
As a minister who is also a woman I am
delighted and relieved that we no longer
have to be crippled by straight-jacketing
texts that are buried in the scriptures.
We look for our truths not only in the
Bible but in all the richness of the
world's religions and the whole history
of mankind. Revelation is not sealed.
Rather than picking out selected lines
in the Bible that prove that women have
no place in church leadership, let us
look at the Bible's larger picture: it
represents a great panorama of change
and growth and process in which God
evolves as a human history evolves. It
is the enormously inspiring story of a
persecuted peoples' deliverance from
oppression and their exploration of New
Space. It is also a report on One Man
who came to tell a legalistic establish-
ment to give equality and justice to all
people regardless of their race or so-
cial class or even gender. Even though
Paul never mentions this, for me this is
the ethos that gives me and my sisters
the permission to be ministers of all
the gospel s--those written and yet-to-be
Rev. Ellen Harvell Dohner
FROM THE EDITOR'S BED,
Not the ringing telephone, but a dream of
our mother awakened us from sleep, re-
storing memories of a handsome, stately
woman whose quietly thoughtful sermons
left deep impressions on young minds.
Where might one find a fragment of one
of her sermons, to honor her in this spe-
cial issue of The Creative Woman , dedi-
cated to Women in Religion? A two-day
search (closets, boxes, desk drawers,
files) failed to turn it up. A tele-
phone call to a sister in another city--
and it was available in minutes, read
aloud and scribbled down so we could
share it with our readers. We talked, my
sister and I, of how Mother saved many of
Dad's sermons (poetry, fervor, eloquence,
written in a large flowing hand on the
back of old orders of service) but none
of her own. (Does this sound familiar?)
At the age of 91, at Vicky's request, she
wrote out one of her sermons from memory.
Remembering Mamma, with love and grati-
tude, an exerpt from that sermon is re-
produced here. We think she would be
pleased to share these pages with the
other women described and recorded here
who selflessly poured their lives into an
enrichment of the human spirit and human
THE MOST INTERESTING ANSWER,
Many letters have been received in
response to the letter from Doug, pub-
lished in the Fall 1977 issue. They
were all interesting. They ranged in
length from one sentence to six pages.
We considered making up a special issue
devoted entirely to Answers to the Let-
ter from Doug. But the editors decided
one one of them: the answer by Harriet
Marcus will be found on page 15.
ABOUT THIS ISSUE
Our two Guest Editors for this issue are
the Reverend Ellen Harvell Dohner, Minis-
ter of the Unitarian Universal ist Church
of Park Forest, and Doctor A. Yueh-shan
Wei, Professor of Philosophy and History
in the College of Cultural Studies at
Governors State University. Their com-
bined visions are reflected in the mate-
rial here: East and West, Female and
Male, scholar and pastor. We are for-
tunate to have their wisdom, insight and
especially their shared faith in the
spiritual power of women in all ages to
affect the consciousness of their times.
THE FIRST TEMPTATION
We know very little about Jesus after his
birth and trip to Egypt for safety, then
after Herod's death, his return with his
parents to the town of Nazareth.
We do know about his journey to Jerusalem
with his parents for the Passover feast
when he was twelve years old, and of his
being so absorbed in his quest for truth
when there, that his parents had begun the
journey home before they realized his
absence. When they returned for him, they
found him--Where?--in the temple with the
rabbis listening eagerly and asking ques-
That is all. Nothing about the teen
years and early manhood before he was
thirty years old, when his cousin John
whom they called the Baptist was preach-
ing by the River Jordan.
Then Jesus went to the mountain to plan
his life work, to decide what he should
do and what he should not do. Becoming
yery hungry, he thought of that strange
new power that he had. (Why should he
go hungry?) But he said, "No, I will not
use it ever for myself alone." And he
lived as many of his people did when on
a journey; he ate of the grain along the
way and drank of the brook. He thought
of the eagerness of the people for some-
thing strange and new, something spec-
tacular. Would that not draw crowds
around him to listen? But he said no
to that. He did not wish to be sensa-
tional. The temptation came to him to
use that power to control groups, to
use his vast power to govern. But Jesus
rejected that, too, though many have suc-
cumbed to it.
Now, having fought the temptations, he
went forth with a few companions, good
men with open minds. He went to Galilee,
drew a large crowd, and preached. Be-
cause his compassion was so great, he
healed many of their diseases. Peter's
wife's mother was ill and he healed her
and she was able to serve them the
evening meal. Jesus and his group slept
Early the next morning Jesus went to the
mountain where soon his disciples found
him and said, "Make haste. A crowd is
gathering!" But they were surprised to
hear Jesus refuse to repeat the healing
acts. He knew that he must never let
the promise or the performance of healing
take precedence over preaching. He knew
then and always that his great task on
earth was to preach and teach a better
way of life. How that teaching has changed
the lives of many. How that teaching has
gone down through the ages, transforming
the lives of millions.
Blessed Jesus, early may we turn to thee.
"Into thy hands I commend my spirit."
(From the "Parables of Jesus",
a sermon by Sarah Mayhew Hughes, born 1876,
written in 1968. )
Sarah Mayhew Hughes
MARY DALY SPEAKS TO ME
As the women's movement begins to
upon the fabric of society, trans
patriarchy into something that ne
into a di arena! situation that is
it can become the greatest single
major religions of the world, We
Beliefs and values that have held
of years will be questioned as ne
revolution may well be the greate
survival of spiritual consciousne
have its effect
forming it from
ver existed before--
challenge to the
stern and Eastern,
sway for thousands
ver before. This
st single hope for
ss on this planet.
Thus speaketh Mary Daly in Beyond God
the Father: Toward a Philosophy of
Women's Liberation. She refers to this
book as her self-conferred diploma upon
graduation from radical Catholic to
post-christian feminist. In Beyond
G od the Father , Daly analyzes Chris-
tian myths and ideas of God, point-
ing out how they limit thinking, dis-
tort ethical beliefs and affect behav-
ior. She argues that radical feminism
enables us to transform our relation-
ship to each other and to the environ-
ment, that only radical feminism can
open up human consciousness adequately
to the desire for non-hierarchical,
The dialogue which follows is imagin-
ary. There is much more in Mary Daly's
book than the issues I choose to dis-
cuss. I hope my conversation with Mary
Daly becomes a prologue for yours.
IMAGINARY CONVERSATION WITH MARY DALY
Me: Castrating the phallocentric value
system 1 . Exorcising the machismo
ethos! I'm right behind you. But
why challenge religion? Vengeful
gods, virgin births, sin, sacri-
fice — I don't want to discuss it!
Can't we just get on with the revo-
Daly:Sinful abominations all! The re-
sult of the fall of religion into
the role of patriarchy's prosti-
tute. Religion can be redeemed.
Also, we should be aware that it
is patriarchal religion which
serves to perpetuate the sexual
caste system by calling it natural.
Myths may not be taken seriously but
they have influenced our laws and
continue to influence our thinking.
Ethicists, mostly male, construct
arguments, against abortion for ex-
ample, which don't take women's ex-
perience into account. Our theology
and ethics, developed under patri-
archy, tend to serve the interests of
Psychiatry and psychology have
served us no better. If the labels
"heretic" or "sinful" don't keep us
in line, "sick," "neurotic" or
Lest ye be seduced or shamed into
joining some other revolutionary
movement and forsaking our own
cause, think on this. Sexual caste
is the "original sin" upon which all
oppression is modeled.
I see. Strike at the roots. But to
be fair to theologians, though I can't
imagine why, haven't they cleaned up
their act? Apologists have thumbed
through their sacred texts to find a
neuter or androgynous god. Paul did
not really mean all those nasty things
he said about women, did he? And was
not Jesus a feminist?
: Images survive. We can speak of God
as spirit and still imagine "Him."
While we may eliminate such concep-
tions as "God the Father" and the
"Kingdom of Heaven" (patriarchal and
hierarchal) we may retain the image
and idea of a Supreme Being keeping
humans in a state of infantile sub-
Paul? For almost two thousand
years his ideas have been used to
enforce sexual hierarchy. Reform
will not do.
Jesus was a feminist, so what? We
can't shuck off history so easily.
This approach assumes past history
has prior claim over present experi-
ence. Christ, as male, cannot be an
adequate model for women. Christ-
like qualities of sacrificial love,
passive acceptance of suffering, hu-
mility and meekness, those of vic-
tim, which have been expected only
of women, are not the qualities we
If the language is compatible with
oppression as history shows and the
symbols can be used oppressively,
there is something wrong with them.
What about modern theology? I
thought God was dead.
Illustration by Emily Culpepper
From: BEYOND GOD THE FATHER
by Mary Daly, Beacon Press,
Daly: Maybe God is dead, but Jesus lives.
Most modern theologists, while re-
jecting the old concepts of God,
can't seem to accept the idea of
Jesus as a limited human being.
Some of them even retain the myth of
the "eternal feminine." None chal-
lenge the basic assumptions of
patriarchal religion or recognize
the depths of their conditioning.
They have a vested interest in sex-
ist society and in either the church
or the scholarly community.
The general effect of Christian mo-
rality has been to distort real mo-
tivations and values. Only women
and subordinate males are expected
to live up to this morality. As
victims of this hypocrisy, we can
recognize it and see how badly it
has served both men and women.
Me: Speaking of hypocrisy, what about
abortion? This is one issue which
has forced us to confront the whole
system. We have had to deal with
our religious beliefs, recognize how
we have been conditioned to place
the welfare of all others above our
own, face the possible condemnation
of society and realize our powerless
Daly:We have to look at the context in
which positions against abortion are
taken. Attitudes about the nature
of women, about sex, about authority
influence those making the decisions.
"Objective" arguments select some
facts and leave out others. While
many factors are taken into account
when considering other issues, on
this issue the situation of the wo-
man involved is not deemed important
nor is the fact that we do not have
9afe and adequate birth control.
The hypocrisy of a patriarchal insti-
tution which supports and justifies
wars and genocide and then claims it
is concerned for the sanctity of life
is astonishing. What authoritarian
religion fears more than the "destruc-
tion of life" is that women will re-
ject that authority and make their
Authentic religion would foster re-
search in birth control, provide birth
control information, work to change
the sexual caste system which traps
women into unwanted pregnancies and
inspire the kind of changes which
would make abortion a non-problem.
Me: Authentic religion you say. I sup-
pose that includes some kind of God.
God is love, ground of Being, what-
ever? Love is love and those other
theological contortions are hardly
necessary for good clean living. Is
this trip necessary?
Daly: First of all, there is a basic ques-
tion implied in human existence.
Me: I wouldn't say so. Anything else?
Daly:Recognizing the limitations of lan-
guage and at the same time trying to
avoid any kind of static world-view
implied by even radical theological
conceptions of God, I have spoken of
God as a verb, as Being. As a moral
power summoning women and men to act
out of our deepest hope and to be-
come who we can be. As ultimate
transcendence, keeping us open to
the future and not fixated on lim-
Daly:We have no power over the ulti-
mate reality. What power we have
is derived from participation in
ultimate reality. Awareness of
this keeps us free from idolatry
in regard to our own cause since
it tells us that all presently
envisaged goals, lifestyles, sym-
bols, and societal structures may
Me: You lost me for a bit there. But
I know some fixated, idolatrous
people. l_ certainly never thought
that his and her briefcases, grand-
motherly four star generals, or
communal kitchens were the best we
could do. I may be pretty quick
with the answers but they don't
let you criticize unless you come
up with "positive solutions" or
"something concrete." And just when
you think you've gained some lim-
ited objective they amend it or re-
peal it. Ah well, this too shall
Me: Maybe I need a dose of something.
You say that women are uniquely
called to be the bearers of exis-
tential courage. How so?
Daly: It takes courage to
position as outside
deviant from the ma
object to the male
we reject this posi
be the "other," we
the evil they have
us and others who a
from themselves as
r, as alien, as
le norm, as an
tion, refuse to
force men to see
We face other anxieties--the anx-
iety of guilt over refusing to do
what society demands and the anx-
iety of meaninglessness when the
old meanings, role definitions and
life expectations are rejected and
we emerge in a world without models.
Me: It ain't easy.
Daly: We need each other. We need affir-
mation from others. In sisterhood
women can rid themselves of self-
hatred and feelings of guilt. We can
find new ways of becoming whole
Me: While I would never have thought of
radical feminism as religious, we
can certainly use all the creative
thinking we can get. Just how is
Daly: I speak of sisterhood as "cosmic
covenant," as fulfilling certain
functions that churches claimed to
fulfill and never could.
Feminism serves as a "sanctuary,"
a space set apart from the rest of
the world. It is not an escape from
reality but a place to face the pro-
blems of alienation, a place to be
oneself in community with others. It
can be physical space but it is also
mental space. We find we are in the
same "space" with other women we meet
who are also breaking out of the old
ways of thinking and behaving. We
have a kind of covenant with others.
The church has been seen as a charis-
matic community in which healing and
prophecy are experienced. Healing
within institutional religion has
been needed because religion and so-
ciety have been destructive. This
healing does not get to the cause of
the sickness. Healing in sisterhood
can be thought of as healing the di-
vided self, becoming complete human
Feminism is prophetic in a new way.
It points to a better cultural order,
not just to reform within the exist-
ing society. It is also not individ-
ual but communal prophecy.
Sisterhood has a mission. Not a
mission of conquest or of imperialist
expansion but an invitation to
leave the old world of sin and
salvation for the new space.
This "cosmic covenant" of sister-
hood has the potential to change
our environment from a culture of
reciprocity with the physical
world. It extends outward toward
male liberation, towards relation-
ships of respect and understanding
and depth with others.
Me: Where do I sign?
A SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT MATTER
"To the Editors:
Dear Brothers is Christ,
Why do you think that we should not have
girl servers? We should be a family. We
would rather have girls and boys serving.
Just because boys are stronger than girls
it doesn't mean that boys have to serve
everyday. Are there some of you who
don't like girl servers? Please tell us
why you don't like them? We aprishiate
it if girls could serve at the altar. If
everyone would try it. After all we are
a Christian family, and Christ wants us
to do things together.
I am in the third grade. From St Joseph
NCR, 15 December, 1965, p. 4.
"At Thanksgiving, 1975, the women at Alderson Prison created and conducted their
own service in the chapel. We sang and we prayed and we listened to one another.
When this prayer was presented, it didn't immediately hold the attention of many
of the women.
But when I reached the part that began 'But I am a woman' they became absolutely
silent—listening to its every word."
JANE KENNEDY'S THANKSGIVING PRAYER
My god is a god of love , a god who cares
about us, a god who nutures and supports,
who helps us grow in all kinds of experi-
ences. And I am thankful.
My god is a god of justice, who looks upon
all victims of society and carries them in
her hands, weeping. Her tears fall upon
victims of poverty, upon victims of war,
upon victims of racial prejudice, upon
victims of sex discrimination, upon vic-
tims of minority status and upon all pris-
oners. Yes, all those whom society builds
walls around to enclose, god weeps for.
She weeps and her tears nourish us and
we grow the courage to act against our
own injustice and that of others. So
we create a world worthy of us. And I
am thankful .
My god is a god of hope . Because we
are created by god, part of us is di-
vine. That part always stretches to-
ward the good. That is why it is not
up to god to create the world in which
we live; it is up to us.
For our lifetime, that part of the
world we can touch with finger or mind
is ours. So we must create, mold, in-
struct, require of it. I, with my sis-
ters, must push toward a better world.
Our hope is that we know the direction;
the god of hope offers her grace to
guide us, especially in time of turmoil
God and we each do our part for we are
interdependent. But each of us must act.
God is constant when she is doing her
part; that is what is meant by faithful-
We must act in our world, take responsi-
bility for it, send out our graces through
our fingers and tongue, so that we, also,
may be faithful .
God and we are partners; we act in com-
plementary ways like right and left
hands. But we must do our part.
For only as we and god act together is
there meaning in life, meaning to our
lives, our moments.
We remember that violence comes after
anger burns unextinguished. Anger that
has not tools to convert itself into
something better, is anger that can nei-
ther die nor be transformed into love.
Thus violence. Violence will be put
away when we are able to see and act
upon the meaning of life. And so I am
As creature of this god, I am thankful
that I may speak out against injustice,
turn my back on that which has no mean-
ing, or mold from its garbage that which
is infused with meaning.
But I am a woman. And in my time and
for the past 2000 years, woman was
thought to be inferior to man-less able,
less intelligent, less courageous than
Yet in my time and for the future it
shall be known that woman is as precious
to god as man, as loved and as respected.
We shall develop all our skills, those of
thought, of speech, of action, so that we
are worthy of our relationship with god.
And for this new beginning for woman, I
am thankful. I am thankful I am a woman.
Surrounding and holding all my life, I am
thankful to dance and sing with the god
of love, as well as weep and moan with
her, thankful to sit with god in the
quiet of my days and breathe together
our thoughts, our fears, and joys and
hopes, planning a new highway to travel.
In love and hope I work
for these rich gifts, I
for meaning. And
am thankful .
Jane Kennedy, the pacifist nurse who
went to prison twice for her anti-war
presently a member of
Governors State University,
been published in the
the faculty at
Her prayer has
National Coalition of American Nuns News-
letter, December, 1975.
WOMEN IN THE RELIGION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Though the matter of "women's place in the
society in general" is far from settled in
the minds of many, we live in a world where
women are theoretically free to compete with
men in every realm and to follow whatever
calling may present itself to them. The
major exception to this rule, however, is
that women are not even theoretically free
to exercise a priestly ministry in a number
of the world's Christian denominations.
Many people, who encourage and respect wo-
men in other professions and even church
related works, feel in the matter of
priesthood alone, the freedom of women to
pursue diverse vocations should not
apply. Ironically, "church" is one of
the three places which the traditional
male-dominated society assigned to women:
Kinder , Kuche , Kirche . But when leader-
ship is in question, women are excluded.
Since the Old Testament not only shaped
the Judeo-christian tradition, but great-
ly influenced the western civilization,
the position of women in the Old Testa-
ment is particularly important when
dealing with women in Religion.
In the OT time, the wife called her hus-
band ba'al or "master"; she also called
him "adon" or"lord n (Gn. 18:12; Jg. 19:26;
Am.4:l); she addressed him, in fact, as
a slave addressed his master, or a sub-
ject his king. The decalogue includes a
man's wife among his possessions, along
with his house and land, his male and
female slaves, his ox and his ass (Ex.20:
17; Dt.5:21). Her husbarid could repudi-
ate her, but she could not claim a di-
vorce; all her life she remained a mi-
nor. The wife did not inherit from her
husband, nor daughters from their fa-
ther, except when there was no male
heir (Nb. 27:8). A vow made by a girl
or married woman needed, to be valid,
the consent of father or husband and if
this consent was withheld, the vow was
null and void (Nb. 30:4-17).
This attitude cannot even be justified
by the hermeneutic principle of " Sitz im
Leben' -' i.e. by comparing with other an-
cient Near Eastern cultures of that time.
Contrary to a common belief, the social
and 'legal position of an Israelite wife
was inferior to the position a wife oc-
cupied in the great countries round
about. In Egypt, the wife was often the
head of the family, with all the rights
such a position entailed. In Babylon,
she could acquire property, take legal
action, be a party to contracts, and she
even had a certain share in her husband's
In the colony at Elephantine, under such
foreign influences, the Jewish wife ac-
quired certain civil rights. She could
obtain a divorce. She could also own
property, and thereby became liable to
taxation (in a long list of taxpayers,
there are thirty-two names of women).
Deeds of exchange and donations, etc.,
also survive, in which the contracting
parties were women.
As the performance of women in the wor-
ship is concerned, Ex. 38:8 speaks of
the "women who served at the entrance of
the Tent of Reunion"; the text is re-
peated in a gloss of 1 Sam. 2:22 which
is not found in the Greek version. The
women who served at the Tent remind us of
the young girls who used to guard the
sacred pavilion among the pre- Islamic
Arabs, but there is no indication that
they had any office to perform in pub-
lic worship. Though it is quite true
that women are represented as singing
and dancing at religious festivals (Ex.
15:20; Jg. 21:21; Ps. 68:26), this does
not mean that they formed part of the
staff regularly appointed for the cult.
The suggestion that there were women
among the clergy of the Temple clashes
with an important linguistic fact:
there were priestesses in Assyria,
priestesses and high priestesses in
Phoenicia, where they are known by the
feminine gender of kohen ; in the Minaean
inscriptions, there was a feminine form
of lw' which some scholars would link
with the Hebrew 1 ewy ; but Hebrew has no
feminine noun corresponding to kohen or
1 ewy ; no women ever held a place among
the Israelite clergy.
A. Yueh-shan Wei
TWO WOMEN OF RELIGIOUS VISION: ST. CATHERINE AND SALLY PRIESAND
St. Catherine of Siena and Rabbi Sally
Priesand are two women who are as dif-
ferent in background and style as a 14th
Century Catholic Italian and a 20th Cen-
tury Jewish American would inevitably be.
St. Catherine of Siena, Italy, was born
Catherine Benincasa on March 25, 1347.
She was the twenty-fourth of twenty-five
children who spent most of their lives
in their parents' house.
Catherine exhibited, at a very early age,
an intense feeling for Catholicism which
was recognized by the Dominican brothers
who came to visit her family home from a
nearby monastery. The brothers' spirit-
ual guidance, and Catherine's own incli-
nation led her, at fifteen, against her
parents' wishes, to join the lay Order
of the Penance of Saint Dominic.
Catherine immersed herself in religious
life with such ardor that she stripped
herself of all but the barest material
necessities and dedicated herself to
Word of Catherine's devotion and self-
lessness spread through Siena and beyond.
She was reported to have had mystical
experiences including a Holy Marriage to
Christ in which they exchanged hearts
and she received a ring from Him. She
stayed with a frightened, condemned
youth before and during his beheading.
She spent days and nights without sleep
aiding the sick during pestilence that
spread through Siena. She interceded,
when asked, in feuds between powerful
Such piety and charity are, by now,
often attributed to women. It may not
even have been unusual in 14th Century
Italy. But it was only a part of the
work in which Catherine invested her-
self. She believed all ills could be
cured through Divine love, and in 1375,
she entered the political scene of Italy.
The city of Florence had been placed
under an interdict by Pope Gregory XI.
The Pope had removed his seat from Rome
to Avignon in France, thereby diminish-
ing his ability to deal with hostili-
ties within the church and in Italy. A
conservative group in Florence, recog-
nizing the awe and respect in which
Catherine was held by many people, re-
quested that she go to Avignon to act as
She agreed to do so, seeing the opportu-
nity to influence the political situation
as well as to appeal to the Pope to move
toward abolishing corruption in the
church and to persuade him to return to
Whether or not Catherine, who made the
arduous journey with a few of her fol-
lowers, was successful in her mission is
subject to some controversy. The fact
is, however, that shortly after she saw
the Pope at Avignon he started back to
Rome, finally re-establishing the papal
seat in that city.
Catherine continued to work constantly
and purposefully for the church, and
through the church, for the state. She
was in Florence during the Sciompi Re-
volt of 1378 at the request of Gregory XI.
She helped Pope Urban VI in the reorgani-
zation of the church. She seemed to be
available wherever there was a need for
Catherine's life has been recorded by her
confessor and biographer, Fra Raimondo,
and through the volume of her letters
which remained intact.
As with anyone who acts in an unconven-
tional way, Catherine had her detractors.
From her letters, some have criticized
her rigidity and her excessive morality.
As a political activist, she was called
a busybody who intruded in the affairs
of men. She was accused of seducing men
of power to gain their confidence and to
accomplish her goals. Her mystical ex-
periences have been analyzed and explain-
Catherine died in April, 1380. However,
it wasn't until June, 1461, that her
followers, already treating her memory
as that of a Saint, convinced the
Sienese Pope, Pius II, to canonize her.
Catherine was a pioneer in her time. Her
religious zeal led her to transcend the
accepted life of a woman. Her actions
permeated many areas of society, and, in
spite of the fact that she lived only
thirty-three years, she was a person of
Rabbi Sally Priesand is not bathed in an
aura of mysticism. However, she is deep-
ly committed to Judaism and its place in
Sally has, with the help of a supportive
family, overcome many prejudices to be-
come a rabbi since she first considered
the possibility as a tenth grader in
In 1972, after completing her training at
the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati,
Sally was ordained as the first woman
rabbi. She is presently Associate Rabbi
of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in
New York City.
Sally's work emphasizes the worth of
each individual, male or female. Indi-
vidual liberty is of the essence to her
and her efforts are continuously direct-
ed to that end. She feels it is the ob-
ligation of the clergy to speak out on
contemporary matters and uses the pul-
pit as a forum to discuss the vital issues
of the day.
In her book, Judaism and the New Woman ,
Sally examines various aspects of the
life of the Jewish woman.
She acknowledges that Jewish law has
never been static and has, in fact, been
progressive toward women in many ways.
In 1846, the Breslau Conference granted
women "total religious equality." In
1892, the Central Conference of American
Rabbis adopted a resolution stating that
"women be eligible to full membership
with all the privileges of voting and
holding office in our congregations."
Even though the intentions were good,
women were still demanding religious
equality approximately one hundred years
A group of Conservative Jewish women
called upon Rabbis attending the Assembly
Convention in 1972 to extend themselves
in affording opportunity to women to have
full participation in the Jewish community.
In a statement distributed at the Conven-
tion, these women said that it was no
longer enough for the woman to be "extol-
led for her domestic achievements and re-
spected as the foundation of the Jewish
They said that it was the time for women
to be granted such rights as membership in
synagogues, full participation in reli-
gious observances, opportunity to join
decision making bodies and to assume pro-
fessional leadership roles, in synagogues
and in the general Jewish community.
They pointed out that Jewish tradition,
"once far ahead of other cultures," had
fallen "disgracefully behind in failing
to come to terms with developments of the
Rabbi Priesand praises these women for
recognizing that change will not come
unless it is demanded by women themselves.
As a result of the action of such women,
she notes, "society has finally recognized
that women are equal to men and that they
too possess intellectual skill, ambition,
the ability to lead, and the capacity for
profound spiritual expression."
To deny society and future generations of
women's wisdom, creativity, and experience,
she continues, would be a deprivation to
them and a great waste of human potential.
Sally Priesand broke a 4000 year old tra-
dition when she became a rabbi. Several
women have followed in her footsteps, but
it was she who proved it could be done.
not rested on that achievement,
used her position to reach as
possible to encourage the ful fill-
each human being. Her civic af-
ons, which are legion, range from
Opportunities Made Equal, in Cin-
Ohio, to the Sex Crimes Analysis
the New York City Police Depart-
When Sally decided to become a rabbi, she
did not think about being a "first." She
simply knew that she wanted to be a rabbi.
"My decision," she says, "was an affirma-
tion of my belief in God, in the worth of
each individual, and in Judaism as a way
of life. It was a tangible action de-
claring my commitment to the preservation
and renewal of our tradition."
St. Catherine of Siena, who lived in the
14th Century, and Sally Priesand, of New
York City in the 20th Century, are dif-
ferent. Yet they are alike. Each of
them surmounted the conventions of the
era in which they lived, and through
their independence of mind and spirit
became forces in their religious commu-
nities and in society.
Gardner, Edmund G., The Story of San
Gimignano , J.M. Dent & Co., London, 1902.
Glasfurd, Alec, Siena and the Hill Towns ,
Ernest Benn Ltd., London, 1962.
Priesand, Sally, Judaism and the New
Woman , Behrman House, New York, 1975.
Schevill, Ferdinand, Siena, The History
of a Mediiaeval Commune , Harper & Row,
Evanston & London, 1964.
"Young, Successful, and First," Saturday
Evening Post , October, 1974, P. 52.
Symbols of the Virgin Mary
From: SYMBOLS, SIGNS AND SIGNETS
by Ernest Lehner, Dover Publications,
New York, 1950.
THE STORY OF GODDESS KWAN-YIN
Women have always occupied a prominent
place in the eastern religions. Accord-
ing to an ancient Chinese belief, Kwan-
yin, a princess of a small state, lived
in China hundreds of years before Christ
was born. Her father, the King, wished
her to marry a noble prince of a neigh-
boring state. But, resolving to ar-
range to her life, instead of being ar-
ranged, she took refuge in a convent.
Her angry father burned the convent and
forced her to return to his palace.
Given the alternative of death or mar-
riage, she preferred the former. Her
body was brought to hell by a tiger.
As she entered the hell, the flames
were quenched, flowers began to bloom
and even the most evil spirits were
converted by her kindness. The very
devils of hell asked her to leave, be-
cause they were afraid she would empty
hell. It was there she won the title
"Goddess of Mercy." She returned to the
island of Pluto off the coast of Chekiang
where, even to this day, thousands of
pilgrims travel to her shrine. Wu Tao-
tzu of T'ang dynasty was the first
artist to paint her with long flowing
draperies and a hood, standing on
clouds or on waves. Later artists made
images of her in stone, in wood, in por-
celain and pottery, in jade, in ivory
and in lacquer. She was often pictured
as wearing on her head an image of God,
to Whose heaven she brings the faithful,
although she herself refuses to enter
heaven, so long as there is still
suffering on earth.
The cult of Kwan-yin was widespread
among Chinese of all faiths and also
among Japanese for whom her name was
changed to Kwanon. Her image is to be
found in Taoist temples as well as in
Buddist ones, in wayside shrines, and
in many homes. Kwan-yin is the most
popular and most beloved deity.
A. Yueh-shan Wei
Goddess of Mercy
Protector of Children
HE MOST INTERESTING ANSWER,
.ETTER TO THE EDITOR
(ear Doug, whoever you are:
'ou have done yourself in with your
ast sentence after a long and, may I
ay fecund, letter.
lase in point: Myself, which I use as
in example since it remains, after long
'ears of much study on many other mat-
ers, the topic about which I know most,
ly 'femaleness' is evident in both pri-
lary and secondary sexual characteris-
es, all the proper ones (open for in-
pection to the blind or otherwise dis-
•elievingl) and my 'fecundity' proved
;o your male satisfaction by two out-
if-body children who persist in calling
le mother even though from time to time
n these past 21 years I have been
;empted to resign from that job.
am not sure that the theory to which
r ou obliquely refer—that men put women
lown in most areas of activity because
;hey are jealous of the ability to bear
ive children-- is not just another ra-
tionalizing masculine absurdity. The
.ruth, I think, may be just so simple
is to come off simplistic: That from
larliest times, most men were bigger
ind stronger than most women, and
.herefore most men engaged in big,
trong activities while women were rel-
igated to littler and weaker ones.
)ver years of reinforcement, stereo-
typing, call it what you will, big
trong men were looked at with ever
lore respect than little weak ones;
inversely, little weak women were
.onsrdered more favorably than big
.trong ones because they were doing
/hat was expected of them.
HI that has happened now is that final -
y, after many centuries, we have enter-
id an age where the validity of old
values is being questioned openly and
iisplacement and replacement are our
lew realities. The old-time 'bests'
ind 'mosts' aren't best and most any
lore. In< an era of mechanization,
itrength is no longer a premium value
ind men's work can become women's as
well; in age that has seen populariza-
tion of psychology, the showing or
withholding of emotion are no longer cut
and dried signs of weakness or strength,
so men may join women in the shedding of
tears and the making of close friends; in
such a day when all people can be indivi-
duals of independsnce, a man need no
longer glory in standing six feet tall
for some shrunken woman who needs his
protection, for she may take pride in
drawing herself up to full height as
If what I'm saying to you sounds like
'We're all becoming more and more alike,'
that's as it should be.
We will never be the same, you and I,
for you will always be able to plant
seeds and I to bear fruit after receiv-
ing the seed of your assistance. That
is as it should be. For this special
fecundity we will always need each
other, and that too is as it should be.
This is a good time to be alive, to
think, to create, to be a part of
change that will shape the world's
future, for more than ever before in
history we who live today are in charge
of our own destinies and the destinies
of those who will come after us. Men
and women together will be making deci-
sions for life, based on assessments of
characteristics other than the physical.
Survival of the fittest no longer
derives from size and strength and de-
pendence on some protector; it will
come from fecundity of a higher order.
Will you join me, person to person, in
being part of the living plasma that
transcends masculinity and feminity?
Yours most sincerely,
Harriet P. Marcus
STALKING THE ELUSIVE THEOLOGIAN
An Interview With Rosemary Ruether
Theologians are elusive for two reasons.
First they have good camouflage. You
wouldn't know it if you passed one in
the laundromat or in a cafeteria since
they tend to dress like other people.
Except when among themselves, they also
talk like most others. Unfortunately,
and this is the second reason why theo-
logians are elusive, they do seem to re-
main among themselves cloistered in semi-
naries and small colleges often only ven-
turing out to conferences on Religion and
Something or Other. Yet the theologians
would probably tell you his/her mission
is to provide direction and interpreta-
tion for his/her community of believers.
As the result of a Creative Woman advisory
board meeting, I found myself with an
assignment to ask Rosemary Radford Rueth-
er to write for us. A challenging but
definitely delightful assignment at that.
It was I who had brought Ruether' s name
up as a prominent voice in the field of
religion. And I, for my part, determin-
ed to camp out on the doorstep of Garrett
Evangelical Seminary Evanston, Illinois,
if necessary in order to speak to her.
Such theatrics, however, were not neces-
Happily, Rosemary Ruether was only a
phone call away from me at Garrett. The
switchboard gave^.ne Ruether' s office
number and I dialed it. The extension
rang. Much to my amazement the voice on
the other end of the line was, my good-
ness it really was, Rosemary Radford
Ruether! The incarnation of my amaze-
ment was a cacophony of stutters about
women, religion, and-um-er Creative Wo-
man newsletter. In only one bounce
around a university switchboard, one
accidental disconnection, and a follow
up call — fiat . But I digress.
No, Ruether couldn't squeeze in doing a
piece of writing for C.W., but yes, of
course, we could reprint some previously
published material. In truth, of Rueth-
er' s many works, notable among them
Liberation Theology (Paulist Press, 1972),
I already had my eye on some exerpts from
her article "What is the Task of Theology"
( Christianity and Crisis , Vol.36, No. 9.
May 24, 1976) . It's a short piece address-
ed to the university. In it, Ruether calls
the oppressed of the world into community:
"The Latin American theologian, the Black
theologian, the Feminist theologian is in-
vited to speak, but the establishment re-
serves in its quiver a final arrow of con-
tempt. First to coopt and then to discre-
dit the possibility of any reality outside
itself will allow theological business to
go on as usual. If possible, the various
'outsiders' will be set at each other's
throats, so that the establishment will not
even be found with blood on its hands at
the scene of the massacre."
Transcending the realm of practical action,
Ruether is a theologian for whom faith-to
her, Christian faith-means transforming the
world. And as a theologian of hope she too
has a vision for the goal of humankind.
Though the oppressed must rise in concert
to confront the power elites of the world,
they must not become the new oppressors!
"Echoing Camus' The Rebel , we need to
overthrow the master as master but to
affirm 'him' as a human being. Rebellion
must remain grounded upon our common hu-
manity. When it becomes murder, the
negation of the humanity of the ' enemy ,'
rebellion negates its own foundation and
can become that reversal of oppression in
which 'seven devils return to occupy the
place from which one has been driven' and
'the last state of that house is worse
than the first.'"
Thus would Ruether guide us to the con-
struction of "a new humanity, a reconciled
existence." Of course her article said
more. Ruether challenges her fellow theo-
logians to come out more into the world:
to make the language of theology that of
the world. She challenges theology,
ministry, and the church "to represent
the critical and transforming edge of
corporate human existence." We're con-
stantly looking to one another for inspi-
ration. After this brief introduction,
perhaps you'll add Rosemary Radford Ruether
to your list. She is a theologian in the
world. After all I found her at just the
other end of my telephone.
Armstrong, Frieda. TO BE FREE. For-
Buhrig, Marga. "Position of Women in the
Church." THE EDUCATED WOMAN, a special
issue of STUDENT WORLD, no. 3, 1966.
Cassara, Beverly Benner, ed. AMERICAN
WOMEN: THE CHANGING IMAGE. Beacon Press
Central Advisory Council for the Ministry
of the Church Assembly. GENDER AND THE
MINISTRY. Church Army Press, Oxford,
Church of England, commission appointed
by the archbishops of Canterbury and
York. WOMEN AND HOLY ORDERS. The Cen-
tral Board of Finance, Church of Eng-
Clark, Elizabeth and Herbert Richardson.
WOMEN AND RELIGION: A FEMINIST SOURCE-
BOOK OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT. Harper and
Row Publishers, 1977.
Culver, Elsie Thomas. WOMEN IN THE WORLD
OF RELIGION. Doubleday, New York, 1967.
Daly, Mary. BEYOND GOD THE FATHER: TOWARD
A PHILOSOPHY OF WOMEN'S LIBERATION.
Beacon Press, 1973.
Daly, Mary, "Built-in Bias." COMMONWEAL,
January 15, 1965.
Daly, Mary. THE CHURCH AND THE SECOND
SEX. Harper and Row, New York, 1968.
Doely, Sarah Bentley, ed. WOMEN'S LIBERA-
TION AND THE CHURCH. Associated Press,
New York, 1970.
Dubois, Albert J. "Why I am Against the
Ordination of Women," THE EPISCOPA-
LIAN, 137, 7 (July, 1972), pp. 21-23, 30.
Dumas, Francine. MAN AND WOMAN: SIMILAR-
ITY AND DIFFERENCE. World Council of
Churches, Geneva, 1966.
Durkin, Mary G. THE SUBURBAN WOMAN, HER
CHANGING ROLE IN THE CHURCH. Seabury
Emswiler, Sharon Neufer and Thomas Neufer
Emswiler. WOMEN AND WORSHIP: A GUIDE
TO NON-SEXIST HYMNS, PRAYERS, AND LIT-
URGIES. Harper and Row Publishers,
Ermarth, Margaret Sittler. ADAM'S FRAC-
TURED RIB: OBSERVATIONS ON WOMEN IN
THE CHURCH. Fortress Press, Phila-
Fischer, Clare Benedicks, Betsy Brenne-
man and Anne McGrew Bennett. WOMEN
IN A STRANGE LAND: SEARCH FOR A NEW
IMAGE. Fortress Press, 1975.
Graebner, Alan. AFTER EVE: THE NEW
FEMINISM. Augsburg Publishing, 1972.
Hahn, Elisabeth. PARTNERSHIP. World Coun-
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and Work of Women in the Church,
Hodgson, Leonard. THEOLOGICAL OBJECTIONS
TO THE ADMISSION OF WOMEN TO HOLY
ORDERS. R.I. Severs, Cambridge, 1967.
Jennings, Ray. REV. MS. EVELYN MORGAN
JONES, I LOVE YOU: LETTERS TO A WOMAN
IN MINISTRY. Judson Press, 1975.
Kirk, Kenneth Escott. "The Ordination of
Women," BEAUTY AND BANDS AND OTHER PA-
PERS. Seabury Press, Greenwich, Conn.,
1957, pp. 177-188.
Lampe, G.W.H. THE CHURCH'S TRADITION AND
THE QUESTION OF ORDINATION OF WOMEN TO
THE HISTORIC MINISTRY. R.I. Severs,
Lewis, C.S. "Priestess in the Church?"
GOD IN THE DOCK: ESSAYS ON THEOLOGY
AND ETHICS, William B. Eerdmans, Grand
Rapids, Mich., 1970, pp. 234-239.
Lindbeck, Violette S. "Should We Ordain
Women?" SALT, vol. 4, no.l, spring, 1967.
Ludovici, Laurence James. THE FINAL IN-
EQUALITY. W.W.Norton, New York, 1965.
Lutheran Church in America, Report on the
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CONVENTION. Lutheran Church in America,
Magalis, Elaine. CONDUCT BECOMING TO A
WOMAN: BOLTED DOORS AND BURGEONING
MISSIONS. Women"s Division/Board of
Global Ministries, United Methodist
McKenna, Sister Mary Laurence. WOMEN OF
THE CHURCH. P.J.Kenedy & Sons, New
Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. WOMEN, MEN
AND THE BIBLE. Abingdon, 1977.
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dained? No," THE EPISCOPALIAN, 137,2
(February, 1972), pp. 8-9.
ORDINATION OF WOMEN. A Report Distributed
by Authorization of the Church Body
Presidents as a Contribution to Further
Study, Based on Materials Produced Th
Through the Division of Theological
Studies of the Lutheran Council, U.S.A.,
Proctor, Priscilla and William Proctor.
WOMEN IN THE PULPIT: IS GOD AN EQUAL
OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER? Doubleday and
"Progress Report to the House of Bishops
from the Committee to Study the Proper
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Church, October, 1966," JOURNAL OF THE
GENERAL CONVENTION OF THE PROTESTANT
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OF AMERICA, 1967, Appendix 35.4-35.12.
"Report of the Joint Commission on Or-
dained and Licensed Ministries,"
JOURNAL OF THE GENERAL CONVENTION OF
THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1970,
Ruether, Rosemary. "The Becoming of
Women in Church and Society." CROSS
CURRENTS, fall, 1967.
Russell, Letty M. ed., THE LIBERATING
WORD: A GUIDE TO NONSEXIST INTERPRE-
TATION OF THE BIBLE. Westminster
Scanzoni, Letha and Nancy Hardesty. ALL
WE'RE MEANT TO BE: A BIBLICAL AP-
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Books Publisher, 1975.
Shannon, Margaret. "CWU and the Women
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Stendahl, Krister. THE BIBLE AND THE
ROLE OF WOMEN: A CASE STUDY IN HER-
MENEUTICS. Philadelphia, Fortress
Thrall, M.E. THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN
TO THE PRIESTHOOD. A STUDY OF THE
BIBLICAL EVIDENCE. SCM Press, Lon-
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Man (Both Sexes of Him)," THE EPIS-
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Verdesi, Elizabeth Howell. IN BUT STILL
OUT: WOMEN IN THE CHURCH. Westminster
Wahlberg, Rachel Conrad. JESUS ACCORD-
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Washbourn, Penelope. BECOMING WOMAN: THE
QUtST FOR WHOLENESS IN FEMALE EXPERI-
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WHAT IS ORDINATION COMING TO? Report of
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Women held in Cartigny, Geneva,
Switzerland, September 21-26, 1970.
Wold, Margaret. THE SHALOM WOMAN.
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Ordained? Yes," THE EPISCOPALIAN, 137,
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WOMEN AND HOLY ORDERS. Report of a Com-
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"Women and the Priesthood," THE LAMBETH
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WOMEN IN THE CHURCH. A Statement by the
Wor^iip and Mission Section of the
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the Life and Work of Women in the
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RELATIONSHIP. SCM Press, London, 1952.
World Council of Churches Department on
Cooperation of Men and Women in Church:
Family, and Society, and the Faith and
Order Commission. CONCERNING THE
ORDINATION OF WOMEN. Geneva, 1964.
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THE EPISCOPAL NEW YORKER, XLVIII, 6
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Zerbst, Fritz. THE OFFICE OF WOMAN IN
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lishing House, 1955.
"i found god in myself
& i loved her/i loved her fiercely"
From FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE
CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE
RAINBOW IS ENUF
By Notzake Shange
Filmmaker: Sharon Neufer Emswiler
Color; 2 minutes
This short animated film discloses how
religion and language discriminate
against women. An Oriental woman visit-
ing a Christian church is perplexed by
use of the word "mankind," which she's
told includes women. To her embarass-
ment, she learns that the Men's Room
2116 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Md. 21218
Filmmakers: Man" anna Norris
Color; 15 minutes
Three articulate women, striving for
equality within their churches, discuss
2116 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Md. 21218
Please send me The Creative Woman for one year. Enclosed is my check or money order
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be 1 ow :
Spring 1978: Women in Science - - as
investigators, scholars, teachers, collab-
orators with men, their contributions, et
cetera; deadline March 31 , 1978; Guest
Editor: Dr. HELENE GUTTMAN, Office of the
Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute, Bldg. 31/Rm. 5A33, Bethesda,
arts, the lives
Women in Art -- the visual
of women both
traditional and contemporary
prints, photographs, et cetera; deadline
June 21 , 1978; Guest Editor: BETYE SAAR,
8074 Willow Glen, Hollywood, Ca. 90046.
Our readers have sent cards and telephone
calls to report their delight in "Betye
Saar -- Spirit Catcher," the beautiful
TV documentary, one of a series cele-
brating distinguished American artists
( The Originals : Women in Art, carried
over public television channels).
Creative Woman staff met to view the
show together and to toast the star. We
are proud that this powerful, unique
artist is associated with our news-
letter and will edit the special issue
on Women in Art, Summer 1978.
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